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Source: Cohen to Give Information on Trump to Investigators; Trump to Sign Executive Order to End Family Separations at Border; Trump Expects Congress to Codify Executive Order in Legislation; "Champions of Change" Highlights Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation Working to Treat Alzheimer's Disease. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 20, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:33:21] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're going to have much more on the breaking news. The president of the United States just announcing he will be signing an executive order that we believe, at least he's indicating, will end the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. We're waiting for the specific details. We're waiting for the statement. We'll get back to you on that. We're watching the breaking news very, very closely. A potentially very significant moment.

But there's other news we're following right now, including this. President Trump's long-time fixer friend, lawyer, Michael Cohen, has famously said he would take a bullet for the president, but that loyalty appears to be shifting rather quickly. A source tells CNN that Cohen has signaled to friends that he's willing to give investigators information on President Trump if, if that's what they're looking for. The source says about Cohen, and I'm quoting, "He knows a lot of things about the president and he's not averse to talking in the right situation. If they want information on Trump, he's willing to give it," closed quotes.

The news comes amid reports that Cohen feels let down and isolated by his long-time boss. They worked together for 12 years.

I want to bring in CNN's legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, Laura cotes.

So, Laura, what does it mean right now, that potentially Michael Cohen could be flipped? He hasn't been charged with any criminal activity. He's under federal investigation, but he hasn't been charged with a crime, at least not yet.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's important to consider here. Remember, even preindictment plea discussions can go on between federal prosecutors and those charged with a crime eventually. A prosecutor only makes the best offer on the outset, the one that's going to minimize the government's financial resources, their investigative capacities. If they have something on him, they'll try to minimize their exposure in terms of finances. But that financial hook is important to think about what Michael Cohen is being motivated by. There's talks that this is bankrupting him and the president is not going to bankroll his legal fees. The isolation around fears that whether or not the loyalty that's been given one directionally will ever be reciprocated. If not, self-preservation kicks in. It's very motivating, even before an indictment, especially if you don't know what's in the 3.7 million documents available for them to look at. Whatever is out there, may be greater legal jeopardy than what he's trying to covet in his relationship.

[13:35:45] BLITZER: Cohen recorded a lot of those phone conversations. I don't know if they have phone confidences with the president, but if he did, that could be a source of concern for the president.

COATES: Of course, it could be. He's been very clear, Donald Trump, that this man is not his attorney, per se, and he only had a sliver or a small fraction of work he did for him as an attorney. With him, the overwhelming breadth of the documents that we may be seeing or if there's any video or audiotapes are not going to be attorney-client privilege. That means they could be exposed. And the special master who is looking at the documents over time has said the bulk of it is not attorney-client privilege. There are some things there that are highly personal. That's on the president, but he did say last week, I always liked Michael, in an almost dismissive sort of way.

BLITZER: Michael Cohen going through a very difficult time. He's a rich guy but he potentially could go bankrupt with all the legal feels that he has to endure.


BLITZER: Certainly, the tense troubles for his family.


BLITZER: We'll have much more on this.

Laura, thank you very much.

There's other breaking news we're following. The president set to sign an executive order, as we've been reporting, to supposedly end this policy of separating families on the border with Mexico. There may be some legal obstacles though. We'll discuss that.

Plus, there's new global backlash against the president over this, from the pope to Canada's Justin Trudeau. Much more right after this.


BLITZER: Condemnation of President Trump's zero-tolerance policy is spreading across the globe. Today, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, broke his silence, weighing in on the crisis.


[13:40:57] JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: What's going on in the United States is wrong. I can't imagine what the families living through this are enduring. Obviously, this is not the way to do things.


BLITZER: The global controversy, the GOP confusion, the widespread criticism, the president is clearly frustrated by the narrative of separating children from their parts at the border with Mexico. In repeated comments and tweets, he points the blame directly at Democrats.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro, of Texas. He's a member of the Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

So let me get your quick reaction to what we just heard from the president within the past hour or so, that he's getting ready within the next hour or two, to sign an executive order presumably that will end this policy of separating families.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, (D), TEXAS: I'm glad to hear it. The president is the one that created this humanitarian crisis that we're facing now at the southern border, and separating young kids from their mothers and fathers. I held an 8-month-old boy named Roger two days ago, and a 1-year-old named Leah, who had been separated from their parents and were in a facility in Brownsville. So I hope that the president will fix the problem that he created.

BLITZER: He says he's going to sign this executive order, and then he says he expects the Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, to codify it and include it in broader comprehensive immigration reform. Are you willing to compromise with the Republicans and support the legislation they will put forward as early as tomorrow?

CASTRO: We're willing to fix this problem. But we're not willing to be held hostage and don't want the kids to be held hostage to allow the president or Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell to use their trauma and abuse as leverage to get us to agree to a border wall, for example, or to be able to short circuit due process and kick out other immigrants without any kind of due process. So to solve this problem, yes, we're absolutely on board. And of course, we're always in discussions about some comprehensive immigration reform. But we're not going to be trading getting rid of these people's trauma for a border wall.

BLITZER: Is that the big issue? You're not willing to support funding a border wall along the Texas-Mexico border?

CASTRO: As I said to you before, I don't support a border wall across the southern border. Most Texans don't. Most Americans don't. But I especially wouldn't vote for one, if I'm being asked to trade on the emotional trauma and abuse, the state-sponsored child abuse that is going on right now.

BLITZER: But what if, in exchange for your vote in favor of some funding for board security, including a border wall, a million DREAMers, maybe two million DREAMers, DACA recipients and others, are allowed to stay in the United States and have a pathway to citizenship? Would that encourage you to compromise?

CASTRO: Wolf, we've always been open to those discussions. For years, we've been open to them. Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the Senate a few years ago passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that John Boehner refused to put on the floor for a vote in 2014. Since then, we've been working towards a compromise, so we're always open to those discussions.

BLITZER: Do you think any Democrats will vote for the Republican legislation? Two bills are expected to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow.

CASTRO: The Goodlatte bill is fairly draconian. I don't think any Democrat will vote for that. The Ryan bill, that one seems to keep morphing, so we need to see where it ends up. But we don't vote until tomorrow.

BLITZER: Are you still open minded about that second, more-moderate legislation?

CASTRO: Not if it's a tradeoff. If we're going to end family separations, trading that off, again, for these other things. This --


BLITZER: What if the president -- what if the president, with this executive order he's about to sign, ends the family separation, and that's no longer an issue?

CASTRO: Yes. If that's taken off the table, as I said to you, I don't support a border wall. I don't want to fund a big border wall across the state of Texas.

BLITZER: Congressman Castro, thanks for joining us.

CASTRO: Thank you.

[13:44:25] BLITZER: Coming up, everyday objects with added significance, from hair brushes to toothpaste to bars of soap. How a former border protection janitor created art out of the items discarded at the border.

Plus, under scrutiny. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is facing questions right now about a stock trade involving a company linked to the Kremlin. Stay with us.


BLITZER: This week, CNN has been telling the stories of truly extraordinary people and organizations that are making a difference. The special series, called "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE," highlights issues that are important to all of us.

I wanted to take a closer look at a disease impacting millions of Americans and something that's affected my own family's life, dementia and Alzheimer's. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)



BLITZER (voice-over): My mother's life was defined by her memory. So when she began to lose hers, it was difficult to watch.

[13:50:04] (on camera): During World War II, my mom was taken to a slave labor camp with her brother, sisters and her parents. Her two brothers and sisters survived. She did as well. Her parents did not.

(voice-over): After meeting my dad, she came to America to start a new life and create new memories.

(on camera): My mom, of course, never forgot what happened during World War II to her and her family, but when she had if opportunity with my dad to come to Buffalo, New York after the war, she was always so vibrant, so smart, so enthusiastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF WOLF BLITZER: We couldn't believe that she is going to believe what he is, he is the best son parents can imagine.

BLITZER (voice-over): But in the last few years of her life, something changed.

(on camera): It was so painful for us in the final few years of her life. We could see she was beginning the process of going through serious dementia. She didn't remember details of what happened even a few hours earlier.

(voice-over): Her memory was slowly being robbed by dementia. What her doctors thought could possibly be Alzheimer's.

(on camera): Doctor Hodes, explain what Alzheimer's is.

DR. RICHARD HODES, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING: The loss of function, the loss of independence. Dementia is a syndrome that we can recognize. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of these symptoms.

BLITZER: My mother died at the age of 95 last summer. It was so painful. That's why I have become involving in trying to help these organizations that will find a cure and treat Alzheimer's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you know him as CNN's lead political anchor.

BLITZER (voice-over): And that led me here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Wolf Blitzer.


BLITZER: To the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation. (on camera): The ADDF is getting close. It's solely focused to

finding drugs to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease.

DR. HOWARD FILLIT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ALZHEIMER'S DRUG DISCOVERY FOUNDATION: Alzheimer's research didn't start until about 1980. Cancer research started in the 1920s. We have come so far that I truly believe we know as much about the biology of Alzheimer's disease as we know about cancer and heart disease, but because of that historical lag time, we don't have the drugs yet.

BLITZER (voice-over): The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation is funding innovative research. One of the most promising of those studies is at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Dr. Ronald Crystal isn't just looking for a treatment. He is searching for a cure, stopping the disease in its tracks by focusing in on a gene that defines whether some get Alzheimer's and others don't.

DR. RONALD CRYSTAL, DEPARTMENT OF GENETIC MEDICINE, WEILL CORNELL MEDICINE: We realize one of the well-known aspects of Alzheimer's is a gene called ApoE. There's three basic kinds. Most of us are ApoE2. And that protects us from Alzheimer's. But about 15 percent of us carry ApoE 4. And that, if you have that genetic, you have a much higher risk for the development early onset Alzheimer's.

BLITZER (on camera): ApoE 3, moderate to average risk. ApoE 4 you are if trouble?

CRYSTAL: That's exactly right.

BLITZER: Dr. Crystal and his team are trying to flip a switch in people's brains. So if you have a high risk of developing Alzheimer's, through gene therapy, that they are working on right now, it might prevent you from getting Alzheimer's.

CYRSTAL: We have to use a virus no carry it. Sort of like a trojan horse, to carry the gene into the cells of the brain. So what we're doing is basically administering it into the fluid at the base of the brain.

BLITZER: If your clinical trials work, can you get people who have ApoE 4 down to 3 or 2?

CRYSTAL: If it works. We have to see. We don't know until we do the clinical studies. If it does, for people that have the ApoE 4 gene, it could protect them from developing Alzheimer's.

BLITZER: So could this mean a cure for Alzheimer's?

CRYSTAL: It could for those who have the abnormal gene.


BLITZER: You give us hope that we are going to beat this disease and I know we can because of what you are doing. (voice-over): A wise teacher once said, we remember the good and the

bad of what happened before us so that we can make tomorrow better than yesterday and today.

(on camera): That was my mom, someone who went through horrendous hardships and sacrifices, painful memories. But she emerged out of that very strong.

(voice-over): That's how I want to remember my mom. And it's why I support these "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE." So that others can remember, too.


BLITZER: And with help from the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, people like Dr. Crystal are thinking outside the box. They're trying to tackle and cure this horrible disease.

If you want to help, if you'd like to help,, go there, get involved. It will be very, very important.

And watch the "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" one-hour special this Saturday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

[13:54:59] Coming up, we'll get back to the breaking news. President Trump says he will sign an executive order to keep families together at the border with Mexico. But what does it mean for the young children, the infants, the toddlers, who have already been taken from their parents? We'll get a live report.